EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 8, 2012

Your view: Letters to the editor

Think of families of fallen soldiers before using flag for political protest

To the editor:

Recently I became aware of a member of my community flying the American flag upside down as a political protest. My reaction was visceral and I became highly agitated. Later on as I calmed down, I began to reflect on the reasons I felt this way.

As a young man I served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968.

During my tour I participated in combat action. I found the body recovery operations actually worse experiences than the fighting.

Details were formed to collect the remains of our fallen brothers; no one volunteered for this gory, sickening work and our hearts went out to those chosen.The recovery was accomplished without ceremony, executed in silence except for the occasional sound of men vomiting and sobbing. Our thoughts were about the wave of misery rushing toward the fallen soldiers’ unsuspecting loved ones back home. We all imagined our own families, if our turn came.

A fellow soldier in my platoon had received orders to accompany his best friend’s body back to the United States. He was killed elsewhere in Vietnam, but his mother had requested that his best friend accompany her son’s body back home. When he returned he explained, how after the identification process, the remains were placed in a casket and draped with the American flag. The casket and that flag were honor-guarded throughout the long journey home.

The flag remains on the coffin, shielding the loved ones from the reality of what lies beneath it. At interment that flag is presented with great ceremony and reverence to that soldier’s loved ones.

When I see the flag, I see fallen friends and fellow engineers.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

NDN Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Photos of the Week